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3 Early NHL Overreactions and Their Realities

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - OCTOBER 10: Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on October 10, 2019 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The weather outside isn't so frightful just yet, but the same can't be said about several NHL fanbases.

We're in the midst of the second week of play, meaning only a literally handful of games have been played at best. Nonetheless, the raucous groups across the continent have either declared the season over or already booked tickets to the Stanley Cup Final.

How do we restore sanity?

The Sabres-Oilers Stanley Cup is Going to Be Epic
Buffalo is having quite the fall. The Bills have an inside track to the AFC playoffs and the Sabres, postseason-free for nearly a decade, have gotten off to a scorching start. They're 4-0-1 and fresh off a shootout victory over Florida on Friday. Meanwhile, the Edmonton Oilers are reaching heights not seen since the Wayne Gretzky days. After a win over the New York Rangers on Saturday afternoon, they've won their first five games for the first time since 1985.

But, before you book tickets to the epic Jack Eichel-Connor McDavid showdown, just remember...it's not about how you start, it's how you finish.

Buffalo is one year removed from an epic 17-6-2 start that created a very happy Thanksgiving in Central New York. We just might find how real the Sabres are this week. After a Monday matinee with the Stars, they embark on a three-game West Coast road trip. The Oilers are inching their way back home after sweeping the New York City area's trio. There's no doubt they have the scorers (McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, James Neal), but their goaltending is the real long-term question. The aging Mike Smith (whose last sub-2.50 GAA was in 2012) and Mikko Kiskonen (career 3.00 GAA) are the current options. Can they do this for 82 games?

The San Jose Sharks Have Lost Their Bite
Playoff staples from the Bay Area, the Sharks got off to a brutal start to the season. It began with a pair of one-sided defeats at the hands of their new rivals from Las Vegas (a combined 9-2 tally) and they only got their first win on Thursday over Chicago.

The Sharks have mostly been getting by with a reliable group of veterans, and this early stretch would seem to indicate their time is up. But, of course, there's 70-plus games to go, and therefore plenty of time to right the ship. Might they need a bigger boat? San Jose went back to the past to help themselves out, as 40-year-old Patrick Marleau was brought back after a two-year sabbatical in Toronto. His leadership could remind the Sharks of the good times and get them rolling in a winnable Pacific Division.

Jack Hughes Is A Bust
At the forefront of the New Jersey Devils' early struggles. is the performance of the top overall pick in last summer's draft. The Devils are 0-2-2 in the early going (and that going includes a blown 4-0 lead in an eventual shootout loss to Winnipeg) and Hughes has yet to record an NHL point.

Frankly, the Hughes disappointment stems from an overachieving preseason, one that saw Hughes score three goals on nine shots (one of which was a game-winner in overtime). Hughes is, after all, the top overall pick for a team that hasn't won a playoff series since 2012. It's obviously far too early to tell about Hughes' long-term prospects, but to label him a bust after this brief handful is pure lunacy. Once New Jersey gets a few wins under their belt, the questions about whether Hughes can handle an NHL workload will surely subside.